The Laguna Beach Dating Game -- Are Women That Desperate? - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


The Laguna Beach Dating Game -- Are Women That Desperate?

The tone for reality show "Laguna Beach" was set when the very first episode premiered on MTV two years ago.

Teenage social queens Kristin and LC battled over the baby-faced Adonis, Stephen, and producers decided it made good television to base the entire season around this messy love triangle.

Their instincts proved right. Despite accusations from critics that character interactions seemed scripted, the show was a breakout hit and quickly became the network's second most popular show behind "The Real World."

It came as little surprise that the formula was barely changed for the second season, except for the fact that an even closer microscope was trained on the relationships - or lack of them - between the girls in the show.

Kristin was back, this time with her small clique of girlfriends, and it was clear they had no desire to exchange niceties with anything else in a skirt.

And another love triangle ensued, with Alex M and Jessica dueling for the affections of cocksure surfer-boy Jason.

The show's portrayal of young women as ditzy little things interested in boys, boys and only boys divides opinion.

"It's incredibly stereotypical and doesn't sound like the kind of lives of the young people I know," said Boston-based psychologist Kathleen Malley-Morrison. "When men get sexually involved with a girl they like, then they get possessive, too."

"One can go back 20 years ago and find a study, centered on young adults and their relationships, that showed college-aged women are independent," she said. "Men actually wanted marriage more than the women, and I find it hard to believe that things have receded and become as one-sided as [shows like 'Laguna Beach'] portray."

As one of the "Laguna Beach" girls might say, whatever.

The fact is that we love to watch catfights, albeit from a distance.

The 1995 movie "Clueless" spoofed such society girls, while more recently, 2004's "Mean Girls" starred Lindsay Lohan acting exactly as the title suggests as she joins The Plastics, the A-list clique at her school.

There's even a cottage industry of books about how to combat the bullying behavior of the Mean Girls - and, under the rubric "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," books about how to adopt the Mean Girl mentality.

"Laguna Beach's" third season is currently halfway through its run.

With "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" seemingly the mantra for the producers, there is yet another love triangle.

As you may have guessed, it sees two clueless-in-love girls trying to tame the carnal instincts of another rather indecisive O.C. teenage boy with muscles like Popeye, Cameron.

Kyndra and Cami are part of the "popular clique." In the season premiere, the two discussed their profound disdain for Tessa and Raquel, who are referred to by the "Laguna Beach" online chatroomers as the "good girls."

While this is going on, Cameron is seen playing ball with a buddy and reveling in the fact he is entertaining two women at the same time - Kyndra and Jessica. Yes, the same Jessica from Season 2 - will she ever learn?

People like Malley-Morrison find such representations of high school girls as "make-believe fantasies." Others disagree.

"There is empirical evidence that girls struggle with competition more than boys," professor Lynne Haney told ABC News. "We often don't deal with competition and envy as well as men."

Haney, who teaches sociology at New York University, worries that reality TV is used as a template by impressionable viewers as to how they should lead their own lives. "People are many things, but in the editing process certain things get accentuated while others get obscured."

"Shows like ['Laguna Beach'] blur the link between whether producers are reflecting what's going on in a girl's life or if they are constructing it."

The handpicked kids in "Laguna Beach" are rich, decent-looking teenagers. They're worried about tans, not acne, and their daily activities are captured with almost cinematic poise.

The suitability of attaching the "reality" moniker to shows like this has already been debated to death. More relevant is whether these cliques actually exist.

Episode 11 of Season 3 highlighted the subservience of the girls in the show.

An upset Tessa told her male friend Chase and her best friend Raquel that Derek, whom she's crushing on, was ignoring her.

Chase enlightens her as to the three-day rule: A guy has to ignore a girl for a minimum of three days for it to mean he's not interested.

If he talks to you before the three days are up, then he was most likely just tired or busy.

Are our schools really full of teenagers like this?

"Girls always fought over the same boys when I was in school," said "Laguna Beach" viewer Carmen Nesenson. "If a guy was caught leading on two girls at the same time, the girls would get mad at each other instead of mad at him."

Nesenson graduated in 2000, and her experiences come from going to school in Minnesota, which is far-removed from the "Beverly Hills 90210" reputation of high schools in Southern California.

John Maynard, a television writer for The Washington Post, also believes that the show fairly portrays its female characters.

"No one comes out looking all that great. The guys are not shown to be the brightest bulbs, and while the featured women are ditzy, they do have strong personalities," Maynard said.

"I don't see any sexism. It's a slice of America, and teenage girls, like teenage boys, do not always act in a positive manner."

As with most reality series, there are hundreds of hours of footage filmed for each "Laguna Beach" episode.

Only the most salacious footage makes the final cut for the half-hour segment.

Those behind the show have made the decision that viewers want to see sex and scandal rather than work and worries.

With such a small cast, "Laguna Beach" cannot be held up as an example of widespread interfemale jealousy and envy.

Nevertheless, for the footage to exist, it has to have happened. That's the reality.


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